Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: Playful Home

At the heart of this trend, which is effectively a quest for expression through playful interaction with the home and the objects that populate it, is the tendency to view the domestic routine with a self-deprecating eye, open to play. The spaces are enlivened with small and large divertissements provided by furnishing and accessories that speak of a sensibility unfettered by the established canons and are a paean to a bolder and, up to a point, “innocent” approach to design.

This is an approach that leverages wonder, unpredictability and curiosity. It is not just a formal exercise, but is also the upshot of a reflection on the unconventional use of objects and materials for the express purpose of triggering an emotional reaction and paying homage to the inner child inherent in every single one of us.


Degré is not easy to define. It is not just an air conditioner; it is also a chair and a furnishing piece reminiscent of a playful trolley suitcase. Conceived by designers Tim Defleur and Benjamin Helle of the Belgian collective Accent, this multifaceted object is an auxiliary heating/cooling system that can create a thermal bubble around its user and its leather handle means that it can easily be moved from place to place inside the home, rather like a pet.

Its rounded shape and soft, upholstered fabric invite one to get closer to it and use it, even sit astride it. The fabric mitigates the temperature, allowing for direct contact or for use as a clothes dryer. The heat is diffused towards the floor and then spreads into the surrounding space and the temperature can be set using the very simple interface on the surface or via a smartphone app.


A contemporary firebox, a piece of “thermal furnishing” that lends itself to a variety of uses and can provide relief and comfort in surprising ways. An accessory with a strong personality of its own, designed to promote interaction that fosters new codes and meanings, as well as new gestures.


Nest, by the designer Paul Ketz, is a wall-mounted container into which objects are placed and “squeezed”, not just for storage purposes, but also for exhibition, in a play of dexterity that is as useful as it is amusing. It would thus be reductive to simply describe it as a cupboard that can store all sorts of things – from shoes to food to skateboards – in perfectly organised chaos.

Its designer intended Nest – winner of the 2016 ‘A’ Design Award – as a do-it-different concept breaking with the established order and ingrained habits and making for an original aesthetic/sensorial experience and an unconventional alternative to the usual shelves/cupboard, thus assuming the characteristics of a functional work of art.

The structure consists of strips of coloured rubber stretched across a steel frame. Apart from being able to accommodate any type of object, the configuration and nature of the 118 bands changes according to the shape and quantity of items accommodated by the bands, looking different each time. The knots that serve to anchor the rubber laces to the frame are visible and their different colourways surprise, lending a pleasing and unexpected air to the top, less visible, part. It is a paean to our inner child and a successful ode to lateral thinking.